Pitso Mosimane: Mandela’s release brought ‘lots of benefits’ for sport
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane says the release of former president Nelson Mandela from prison just over 30 years ago has yielded many spin-offs for sport in SA.
Speaking after the 30th anniversary of Mandela's release from Victor Verster prison this week, Mosimane said the country could not have hosted tournaments like the 2010 Fifa World Cup and other big events if the former president and other political prisoners were never released.
“I am happy that we are back in international football and that’s why we hosted the World Cup in 2010 here in SA,” he said.
“We would not have hosted the World Cup because we were under sanctions and we were banned. Freedom has brought all the goodies — look at the nice football stadiums that we have across the country.
“There have been lots of benefits. Under apartheid, football people said to me that we will never come to your country. Now we have people like Caster Semenya, Percy Tau, Akani Simbine, Wayde van Niekerk and many others who are showcasing their stuff on the international stage. We are benefiting.”
When Mandela was released on February 11 1990, Mosimane remembers being in Greece and the news making international headlines.
“I remember very well when it happened — I was in Greece where I was playing football.
“I could not believe that it was going to happen because when you were in the apartheid days you did not believe all these things. I said to myself that this is not going to happen — there will be stories tomorrow that something has happened.
“I asked to train earlier because Mandela coming out was a big thing for me. Everybody, including my teammates, were talking to me about it and suddenly I was the big guy with everybody wanting to talk to me.”
As the country celebrated the anniversary, Mosimane called on black people to support each other.
“Apartheid was evil and black-to-black hate is huge. Sometimes we accept it when another race enjoys the benefits but when it’s your black neighbour you say, ‘Why is he or she earning so much money?’.
“When it is a chief executive of one of these big corporates we accept it and we live with it, but when it’s a black people, tjerrr.
“Sometimes I don’t blame our people not to understand black excellence. You see it every day, I also experience it.
“I blame apartheid because that thing has really, really killed us and it was very destructive. We are running our own government but we still have problems and sometimes people say it was better during apartheid.
“I say it can never be better because apartheid was too strong guys. We have our challenges but we can’t say it was better with apartheid, no.
“I know how it is to study physical science or mathematics in Afrikaans — it was difficult. You struggle with the language more than the figures, but through the power of the students we eliminated it.”